Archive for October, 2011

Somewhere in France

By Kathy NickersonOctober 31st, 2011happy endings7 Comments

Holding Hands -- the universal symbol of belonging.

Somewhere in France today, a little boy has grown into a young man and will soon be planting a thriving church. That’s what I imagine anyway. Let me explain:

More than fifteen years ago, Wendell and I went around the world at Epcot Center in four crazy hours. Spending only four hours at Epcot was both insane and romantic, but that is a story for another post. It rained that day, and we joined a long line of tourists buying yellow rain slickers in the souvenir shops.

Epcot is international in theme and in reality. Everywhere we went, family groups were speaking to one another in languages Wendell and I could not understand. (adding to the romance, of course.) Mickey Mouse rain gear became the great equalizer. We all looked alike, even though we sounded quite different.

At one attraction, Wendell and I got into line with a group of French-speaking families. Eventually, we found ourselves in a small ante-room, waiting our turn for a ride. The lights dimmed, and everyone instinctively grew quiet. In that moment, one little boy reached up and took my hand.

I held my breath and waited for him to realize I didn’t belong to him. Instead, he held tighter.

I squeezed back. Then I prayed. I prayed that the room would stay dark so the little guy wouldn’t look up and realize he was holding hands with a stranger. I prayed that he wouldn’t be frightened. And then I prayed that God would capture his heart. That he would grow up to be a great man of God who would bring Light into darkness and make a real difference in the world.

Then, the doors opened, the little hand pulled away, and the boy was gone with his people.

I’ve thought of him several times through the years. It was only a moment. A tiny connection in a gigantic day. But it felt like destiny.

I pray that it was.

 

Read More

Dear Reader…

By Kathy NickersonOctober 27th, 2011The Bible2 Comments

This great advice recently from Rachelle Gardner’s excellent blog: Focus on identifying your target audience. Who are you writing books for? Identify ONE PERSON in your life who represents your audience in terms of age, gender, lifestyle. Blog for her.

Oh, I so do that. But, I’m not telling who you are.

Instead, I will tell you, Dear Reader, how I was reminded again of this principle while I was reading the Gospel of St. John.

One of the most-quoted scriptures in the Bible is John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

In fact, I think we’ve printed that verse on so many tee shirts, mugs, and billboards it has lost some of its power. It has started sounding like a Christian cliché.

But, Jesus didn’t publish this on a sign post along the road to Jerusalem. He didn’t hand it out on papyrus tracts. He said these words to a person. One single, searching soul. The encounter is the stuff a great novel is made of:

Darkness has fallen. A respected Jewish leader slips out of his home and creeps through the silent city to find the Man from Nazareth. When they meet, Nicodemus pours out the questions burning in his heart. We see the pull of faith struggling with the pressure of position.The learned teacher grappling with a concept that defies nature and demands faith.

And, in that secret conversation, Jesus speaks the words that will become the global tag line for Christianity. Seeing these words as they were spoken to Nicodemus  changes things. Hearing them in the dark Jerusalem night brings back their power and their purpose.

Writing to one person does make a difference.

Read More

The Red Arrow

By Kathy NickersonOctober 24th, 2011family3 Comments

I am directionally challenged. I’ve mentioned this before,  and I find it quite inconvenient. I really need one of those big red arrows over my head at all times that says, “You Are Here.” I can follow Google Map directions … most of the time. I can even figure out which way is north if I can actually see the sun.

But I can’t make it feel like north.

Judging directions by the sun or the stars is just information to me. You know, like two plus two equals four. Or one three-ounce brownie equals two pounds of weight gain. That kind of thing. Knowledge  just isn’t the same as knowing.

So, I discovered this most interesting thing about myself recently. Once I figure out where North is, I make a mental calculation, almost unconciosly. Instead of calibrating everything from North. I use that compass point to find West.

Because that is where my parents live.

West of town when I was growing up. West of my grown-up house the past thirty-six years. I can’t actually see their house, of course. But I picture it. The gravel road winding through the fields. The bridge below the house. The sunset every night over Hopewell hill.

I see the farm in my mind, and suddenly the world comes right. North becomes true, and I know exactly where I am.

Read More

If I Had a Platform

By Kathy NickersonOctober 20th, 2011mercy8 Comments

I watched a talk show the other evening because I was tired of politics on the news, but I didn’t want to eat supper alone. I hadn’t seen Oprah or Rosie for several years, so I thought I’d check out their shows. My viewing choice probably explains the two cookies and a cinnamon roll I ate even though tomorrow is my weigh-in day!

As I listened to the chatter, I felt this thing rising up inside me. At first I thought it was the cinnamon roll. But, no, it was something more sinister than that. It was jealousy. I looked at those women and their various guests and I was jealous. Not of their clothes or their hair or the ungodly amount of dollars they were earning by the minute. I was jealous of their platform.

I wondered how many millions of other people were wrapped in a blanket on the couch eating too many sweets while taking part in this virtual conversation to nowhere. And I wondered why I was the one on the sofa instead of the stage.

At one time, my writing career seemed to be taking me that way. I actually turned down an offer to appear on a national television talk show back in the ’90’s. I’m still glad about that. It was the mercy of God that held me back. Because I didn’t have anything to say. Nothing helpful or real or tested. I’d have done much more damage than good.

I’m a little more seasoned now. And my brief flare of jealousy made me wonder: If I had a platform today, what would I use it to say?

Maybe I better figure that out.

And then maybe I should just keep standing on the little two-by-four of my life and start saying it.

 

 

 

Read More

The Look

By Kathy NickersonOctober 17th, 2011happy endings4 Comments

Another perfect part of wedding days.

Weddings are so beautiful and so full of hope. Two couples we love were married last weekend in neighboring states. We didn’t make either celebration because we were focusing on some fruit from our own wedding day: grandchildren. But I thought of those couples all day. And I stalked their friends and families on Facebook waiting for the first pictures to be posted. (Thank you, Lori, for the Tweets from Pittsburg!)

One thing I love is The Look between brides and grooms. It is like a secret handshake with the eyes. No matter what goes on in the ceremony, every couple hits that moment when they lock eyes and have a silent conversation. In that look, they exchange vows known only to them. It might only last for a second, but the couple makes a little pact right then: It’s you and me, Baby, forever. (followed by some variation of let’s cut the cake and head for the honeymoon!)

And do you know what I love even more than seeing that look between newlyweds? Seeing it from the other side of our living room. Or over the head of our grandson after the fifth grade football game. Or across the crowd when church lets out. I love the look because it says so much with so little. And thirty-seven years later, it still makes me go weak in the knees.

 

Read More

Trust the Map

By Kathy NickersonOctober 10th, 2011family, happy endings, The Bible2 Comments

He's still getting me out of jams after all these years.

It’s hard to miss a mountain. But I did. An entire range of them skirting the edge of a city, in fact. I had never driven in Casper, Wyoming, before except for a short trip to Wal Mart that same morning. But when my daughter-in-law got sick and all the men were out hunting, I became the designated driver for after-school pick-up.

I had been to the school at least three other times. I could picture it clearly in my mind. A clean, new building with a green roof and a gorgeous view of the mountains from the playground. Rochelle even drew me an excellent map, which I followed with ease.

Until I reached the crucial turn off from the main boulevard. The map said Left. But I could see the familiar neighborhood to my right. I remembered driving through there each time we picked up the girls. “She’s sick. She must have gotten it wrong.”

I turned right.

And, I was lost within seconds.

After driving around in circles for ten clock-ticking minutes, I gave up and asked a high-school kid if I was close to the Academy. “Uhhhh, no. You’re a long ways from that school.”

Yeah. Got that.

I tried calling the house. No answer. I called my sister in Missouri and asked her to call her son in Wyoming to get me directions. No answer there, either.

Finally I prayed to The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit — because it was going to take all three of them to get me out of this jam. And, They did. Despite the screaming in my brain, I suddenly heard my husband’s wise words: If you get in trouble, always go back to the original plan. He told me that on our honeymoon thirty-seven years ago when we hit a travel snag. It has been one of the guiding forces of my life.

So, I went back to the last intersection before I had gotten lost. Then I looked again at the map. Left. I looked at the road. Mountain. On the left. Oh, good grief!

I found the school within seconds. Lots of kids were still waiting in the pick-up line, but ours were gripping the fence in their usual corner, straining for any sight of the van. When they tumbled into the backseat, both talking at once, Elena told me, “We were just about to go to the office and report ourselves as Lost Children!”

And that, my friend, is what we get if we trust our feelings instead of trusting The Map.

Read More

The Five Finger Rule

By Kathy NickersonOctober 6th, 2011family, happy endings2 Comments

Our granddaughter, Elena, explained to me this week about the Five Finger Rule in her school library. I thought at first this was going to be a lesson about stealing, since her school focuses on virtuous living. (and sitting up straight. and not chewing gum or wearing flip flops. I like this school).

But The Rule had nothing to do with kleptomania. “When we choose a book from the library,” she said, “we read the first one or two pages. And we hold up one finger for each word we don’t know. If we hold up two or maybe three fingers, then that’s okay. But if we hold up five fingers, then that book is probably a little too hard for us and we should choose another one.”

This. Is. Brilliant.

I am adopting The Five Finger Rule for my life. Starting now.

Two or three fingers, God. That’s about all I’m good for in a day. If we hit five, I’m counting on that “way of escape” showing up. Okay?

Read More

Working the Plan

By Kathy NickersonOctober 3rd, 2011writing6 Comments

I’ve been given a rare season of unscheduled time this week. I have a stack of reading material and a long list of things to research. Plus several writing projects, of course. Sounds like Heaven, doesn’t it? But here is the problem: My toothbrush isn’t in the right place.

My friend, Darin, once explained that any little change in your living environment can throw off your groove. He told the college freshman it might take them six weeks to get comfortable with their new dorm room and grow accustomed to finding their toothbrush every morning. I so get that. The older I grow, the deeper my roots of routine.

The first two days of “free” time were not productive in my writing world. (I got tons of baby snuggles and played excellent games of Story Cubes. A Pulitzer really couldn’t compare.) But, I do need to accomplish some goals. So, I’m making a concentrated effort to establish routine, even on vacation. I’d like to be a flexible, free-spirited artist who can write in my pajamas and just go with the flow. Instead, I’ve picked a spot in the guest bathroom for my toothbrush. And I’m keeping it there.

How about you? Rituals and routines? Or go-with-the-flow?

Read More